Photo Archive Open House

Archive Open House

Jan 16th 7:30 PM

Cochrane Historical Museum

Cost: Free

Most commented on photo on our Facebook page.

CHAPS is planning on having regularly scheduled events to talk about the History of Cochrane and area. This is our first where we plan on opening up our photo archives. We have many more photos than what we’ve been showing on our social media feeds.

Plan on joining us for this free event.

Raking Prairie Wool

In the News

Stay tuned for a new magazine debuting in February 2019. CHAPS and the Cochrane Historical Museum will be a feature.

Existing publications in Cochrane and Airdrie will be merged into a new magazine called “townsizing”.

Bernice, Larry and myself had the opportunity to talk to Carmen about our passion for the history of our town and the spirit of volunteerism that our volunteers exhibit that keeps the Museum and other projects going.

Dewey Lee Blaney

Dewey was born in Roanoke County, Virginia in 1897. He moved with his parents, brothers and sisters to Salem, VA in 1906. He was hired to work for the Barnett family in their home and feed store.

Dewey came to Alberta with the Barnett’s in 1915 to a farm in the Bottrell area. He worked for them for 4 additional years before moving on to work in Dog Pound and Bottrell area.

Later, he found work with the Hogarths tending teams of horses on the Banff-Jasper Highway construction and again with local ranchers in the Cochrane area.

Dewey loved children and as Ivan in “Skippin’ Sugar Cookies”, says spent a lot of money on them.

Dewey passed away in 1970 and is remembered here in Cochrane in St. Andrews Cemetery and Dewey Blaney Park.

from an article in Big Hill Country


Dewey Lee Blainey (1897 - 1970)

Long after Dewey passed away he inspired me.

He was around Cochrane alot when I was small and I also saw him at the Cochrane Racetrack site where he lived. He worked for many ranchers in the area including my grandfather J.W. (John) Boothby.

Dewey inspired my interest in history. I read in Big Hill Country that his grandfather was a slave.  That small piece of information made me realize that the Civil War and slavery were not long ago even though 1861-65 sounded so many years passed.

That small fact also made me realize that the study of history helps understand why we are the way we are today.

by Mark Boothby

1907 Canadian Red Ensign Flag Premiered

CHAPS premiered a new Exhibit at the Cochrane Historical Museum. A unique Canadian Red Ensign flag was unveiled at the Museum today.

Mike Taylor describes Flag Research

The flag was donated by David and Jane Raymont of Toronto who have familial ties to the area. Mr. Raymont purchased the flag in memory of local rancher Arthur Scott Lewis who died in W.W. 1 (1885-1918) He and his wife Maude Lewis, purchased a section of Spencer Creek Ranch (Beaupre Lake area) in 1908.

Alberta became a Province in 1905 and the shield of Alberta was added to the other 8 shields on the right hand side of the Red Ensign flag in 1907. The Union Jack was on the left side, so this flag represented all 9 provinces and England. This Red Ensign, or similar one would likely have been flown in Cochrane with great pride after Alberta became a province. It is therefore very appropriate that this flag will be prominently displayed at the Cochrane Historical Museum.

After the flag was donated it became clear that this was an important acquisition that should be restored, preserved and given pride of place in the Museum. Thanks to a generous grant from the Rotary/Lions/Bow Rivers Edge Campground Society, the Museum was able to have the flag cleaned, repaired, mounted and framed. The meticulous work of professional restorer Gail Niinimaa and the painstaking framing of Scott Winter at Winter Photographics has restored, preserved and beautifully displayed this unique acquisition.

Despite the Canadian Red Ensign never being officially approved by Ottawa, it flew over the Parliament Building for several years before being replaced by the Union Jack during the Boer War. Flag manufacturers capitalised on nationalistic feelings and produced several different varieties of Red Ensigns, adding the new Provincial Shields when they were approved by England. The Museum’s flag, like others has the Union Jack on the left and the provincial shields on the right, but unlike most Red Ensigns has a maple leaf and beaver garland around the shields, making it rare and truly Canadian.

Since the ‘Great Flag Debate’ of the 60’s when Canada finally acquired its own officially approved flag, little has been heard of Canada’s original flags. The history of the Red Ensign is in danger of being lost. In their lifetime, many Canadians have only known the current flag, and its a revelation for them to see an original early Canadian flag. The museum will be showing this history along with countless other exhibits when it opens again in June 2019.

Mike Taylor, Cochrane Historical Museum Committee member. The museum is a part of CHAPS, Cochrane Historical and Archival Preservation Society.


December 15, 2018

Hill Climb Location update

Gordon and I spent an hour trying to locate 1 of the 3 motorcycle hill climbing areas around Cochrane. We think we’ve found 1. These images are approx. 80 years apart. Do they look like the same plateau and corner of the river?

We are meeting with Ace Hy Motorcyle Club later this month  to see their photos of 1930’s hill climbs to see if we can find the other 2 sites.

Merry Christmas 2018 from CHAPS Cochrane

CHAPS wishes everyone a joyful, peaceful, loving and Merry Christmas.

Our gift to you are some memories of Historic Cochrane from our new Youtube site.

Please Subscribe and Like our Youtube channel. Look for this button in Youtube.

We’d like to see you at our Christmas celebration at the Museum December 17th, 7:00 PM.

Rona B Shot Tower

We’re starting of series of blogs based on the 2005 The Live Stories Programme: 100 Stories for 100 Years produced by Barry Thorson and Lone Wolf Theatre Company. CHAPS has had the source material in our archives for years. There are some really interesting stories of Cochrane that we want to share.

The first video is Ron Baker describing how Cochrane’s Rona B shot tower was built.

Ron was a trap shooter who began experimenting with creating his own shot. He came upon a special lead alloy and local shooters began asking him to supply lead shot.

The shot tower was a former oil derrick.  The buildings and equipment were home made or adapted from oil equipment. Ron felt his product was harder than any other produced in North America.

Lead bars were melted at the top of the tower, poured through a sieve and dropped to the base to be cooled in a vat of water. During its peak, Rona B used 3 to 4 tons of lead daily. The Tower stood 181 feet top to bottom.

The finished lead shot was used in Olympic shotgun shells and by Western Canadian shooters who made their own shells.

Rona B Lead Shot was started by 1959 by Ron Baker and his father C.W. Baker. We believe the tower was completed 1961-2 and was torn down in 2006.

Mark Boothby from files submitted by Garney Baker.

Rona B Shot Tower
Approximately where Bow Ridge Sports stands todaay

A bag of the shot produced at the tower. It  recently sold on the Internet along with 20 of the bags used.

I didn’t know anything about the topic of making shot so I looked a video up. I’d not seen any other shot towers in Canada. According to the video there were only 3 in England at that time.

Motorcycle Hill-Climbing

Did you know Cochrane had Motorcycle Hill-Climbing in the 1930’s. Just like today, people from Calgary liked to visit Cochrane. One of the popular activities was Hill-Climbing. We’re looking for photos on those races.

Thanks to Deeley Exhibition for providing this image. For more on Hill-Climbing visit their site at

Will Pratt supplied these images on our Twitter account. He describes the locations as 8 miles west of Calgary. Obviously, a popular event.

Congratulations to the Glenbow for tracking down some History.


This news from the Glenbow inspires me. We have so many photos in our archives with few or no details. I’m sure it’s within the collective memory of our members so we need to record it. This is one of our goals when we open our photo archives; to record peoples memories. Goto to our Activities page for more details on our Photo Archive event.

Here’s is the Glenbow story about recovering the people and circumstances from one of their photos. 

Jingle Dance Detectives

Thanks to our Fund Raiser Sponsors

We’d like to thank the generous local firms that sponsored our silent auction.  This years’ Fall Fund-Raiser was a success.

These individuals and firms contribute to the cultural fabric of our area and keep the history alive.

Arlene Hepburn
Boston Pizza
Canadian Tire
COBS Bread Bakery
Daves Dry Cleaning
Fountain Tire
Gayle Want
Global Pet Foods
Kas Beynon
Original Joe's Restaurant & Bar
Cochrane Panda Flowers
Safeway Cochrane
Schooners on First
Sobeys Liquor Cochrane
Vinestone Wine Co.
Dianne Mclennon
Cathy Elder
Shannon Want

2018 Fall Fundraiser Success

About 90 members and friends of CHAPS attended the Annual Fall Fundraiser at the Royal Canadian Legion #15 for an evening of great food, entertainment, and chance to catchup with local friends and neighbors.  Live entertainment by Charlotte Burrell, 2 short films by Jade Lewis and silent auction were enjoyed by all.

  • by Bernice Klotz

Museum Visitors – 2018

Jade Lewis has been operating the Cochrane Historical Museum for the last several years.  View our hours here.  Private viewing can also be arranged during off season months. Follow the above link for directions.

The number of visitors this year has remained constant. The number of visitors from outside of Canada was nearly 230 people. Not surprisingly 61 came from the US.  However, CHM had visitors from a total of 25 countries including Central & South America, Europe, and the Far East.

Presidents Message 2018

Looking Back

As we close out our 2017-2018 Year end, I want to take a moment to reflect on and celebrate the achievements CHAPS has made through the course of this past year. In thanking all of CHAPS volunteers and members for your enthusiasm, participation and support throughout this past year. I hope you all take pride in all that we have accomplished together for CHAPS and the Town of Cochrane. The 2017-2018 year end was a hallmark one for CHAPS and it would not have been possible without all of you.

CHAPS continually assists and participates in many local and regional events, such as Downtown Cochrane Walking Tours, the Family Fun Heritage Festival, The Cochrane Art Show and Inter-active meetings with the Bearspaw Historical Society.

Our returning summer student, Jade Lewis, produced another short impressive historical feature film entitled A Rainy Royal Visit”.

Jade exhibited more confidence, passion, enthusiasm and a proactive attitude in making The Cochrane Historical Museum even more successful this year.

An essential and important fun social event for many local residents are our biannual Spring and Fall fundraising dinners. Other successful sources of fundraising during the past year included the Alberta Gaming Casino, The Town of Cochrane, The Canada 150 Grant, The Cochrane Foundation, The Bow Rivers Edge Campground and The Cochrane Legion.

Special thanks to Mark Boothby and David Millican for using their imaginative use of social media, web projects and Facebook to bring CHAPS into the 21st Century. Museum websites provide facilities to global connectivity. Social media is an opportunity to “tell our story”, engage with supporters and get results. This social communication strategy will assist CHAPS in meetings its goals of community engagement and education, recruitment and fundraising.


Moving Forward

What kind of museum do we want for our future?

We need to create a museum where people want to come and actually get experience. This means we need to be innovative and imaginative to be different, innovation is the key to attracting new visitors and retaining current ones; the future of our “cultural built environment” – The Cochrane Historical Museum – will be driven by adaptability, flexibility and visitor engagement.


New methods of engaging volunteers and visitors mean a new set of skills for all of us involved in CHAPS. We must become skilled in developing a dialogic relationship with our community, our neighbours and a variety of stakeholders.

There is always a certain memorable magic to be found inside our house museum. At the very least the Cochrane Historical Museum tells a local story that might otherwise be forgotten.

Larry Want
Cochrane Historical & Archival Preservation Society
September 19th, 2018


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